Straight from Our Roots: Coco by Pixar

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COCO 2016 Disney-Pixar. All Rights Reserved. Image provided by Festival Annecy via Flickr Creative Commons.

By Raquel Enriquez (Translated by Lourdes Oliva)

Miguel is 12 years old and wants to be a musician. He loves music so much that in his spare time, he sings and learns to play the guitar. But getting his dream will not be so simple: Miguel must overcome the opposition of his family, which has a terrible opinion of musicians and prefers that the child adopt the family trade and be a shoemaker.

The story takes place in the small town of Santa Cecilia (patron of the musicians), but the same can be lived in any other town, with its church, its main park and its market. Miguel is a boy like any other, who does his homework, sometimes willingly and sometimes badly. He gets into trouble and tries to resolve things before his elders find out. He shares his fears and desires with the beings he trusts most¾his dog and his great-grandmother.

The great-grandmother, Mama Coco, is an old brunette, with few words and a sweet smile, like all grandmothers.

Here is the magic of Coco: Miguel’s problems are a little like those of all of us. His mother, rigid but generous, represents all the mothers of Mexico, and his grandmother (Mama Elena) exercises that fierce and affectionate matriarchy in which millions of families are recognized in Mexico, Italy, Spain or many other countries.

Coco is, above all, a story about family. A family that, despite the distances, remains united to offer unconditional support to all its members despite their mistakes and their shortcomings.

The family was a fundamental pillar in the growth of the United States: During the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants from countries such as Ireland, Germany, Italy and Russia settled in their new home with the support of family networks, and through these networks they organized the arrival of more immigrants. Family farms promoted the colonization of the central states and the western coast of the United States. Family businesses are the economic engine of large regions and provide much of the specialized technology and manufacturing on which large corporations depend.

In Mexico, migrant families cover the shortcomings that result from an unresponsive government. The government is focused on the interests of the political class, and the financial system only reaches the most prosperous half of the population. Businesses, farms and family workshops employ seven of 10 Mexicans. Sixteen million Mexicans living and working in the United States send more than $13 billion each year to their families, surpassing the national income from tourism and oil sales.

At the same time, these workers contribute to the U.S. economy consumption equivalent to half of everything that Mexicans consume in their country. Mexican labor generates up to 10% of the GDP of the United States.

The contribution of Mexican families to the economies of both countries is indisputable, but this wealth comes from a bond more powerful than money or the need to earn it¾family ties, which extend across physical, political and generational borders to unite people.

In Coco, families from all regions, times and generations are linked by a bridge built with flowers. Also, the Mexicans on either side of the border are linked by an invisible bridge. A family can be separated by thousands of kilometers, by mountains, rivers and customs, but through the union people overcome obstacles, families persist through time, and nations are built.

Coco offers us one more message: What’s Mexican is not in danger of extinction around the world. The Day of the Dead does not disappear over Halloween nor will the Three Kings be replaced by Santa Claus; you just have to attend a Mexican party to see how the traditional and piñatas will take the form of San Nicolás or any other Pixar character and still be a Mexican piñata.

The world does not threaten national identity, but it does enrich it and gives it space to be known and admired by all the inhabitants of the planet. The piñatas, the tacos, the colors, the music and even the Mexican dogs (the tiny and faithful Chihuahua), fills the planet with admiration: and all that is Mexican culture make you fall in love.

It is time for the Mexican family to show the world why it is so strong, despite the borders and beyond death. This is what Coco shows.

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Contact Raquel Enriquez at 559- 477-5107.